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Though ubiquitous on beaches worldwide today, the skimpy swimsuit known as the bikini wasn’t always in style. Diana Vreeland first spotted what she would infamously dub “the most important thing since the atom bomb” on the shores of St. Tropez in the years just following the Second World War. Though there were some modest two-piece swimming costumes, never before had so much skin seen the light of day. Then fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar, Mrs. Vreeland knew she had stumbled upon something that would change the face of fashion: a “swoonsuit” that exposed “everything about a girl except her mother’s maiden name.”

True to form, Mrs. Vreeland shocked her contemporaries when, in the May 1947 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, she featured a Toni Frissell photograph of a model wearing a rayon green-and-white-polka-dot bikini by the American sportswear designer Carolyn Schnurer. The controversy shock that ensued was met by typical Mrs. Vreeland deadpan talk: “It’s that kind of thinking that holds people back for thousands of years.“

Left Page- Louise Dahl-Wolfe, 1947
Right Page- Toni Frissell, 1947


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